Haseman and Elston (H-E) proposed a robust test to detect linkage between a quantitative trait and a genetic marker. In their method the squared sib-pair trait difference is regressed on the estimated proportion of alleles at a locus shared identical by descent by sib pairs. This method has recently been improved by changing the dependent variable from the squared difference to the mean-corrected product of the sib-pair trait values, a significantly positive regression indicating linkage. Because situations arise in which the original test is more powerful, a further improvement of the H-E method occurs when the dependent variable is changed to a weighted average of the squared sib-pair trait difference and the squared sib-pair mean-corrected trait sum. Here we propose an optimal method of performing this weighting for larger sibships, allowing for the correlation between pairs within a sibship. The optimal weights are inversely proportional to the residual variances obtained from the two different regressions based on the squared sib-pair trait differences and the squared sib-pair mean-corrected trait sums, respectively, allowing for correlations among sib pairs. The proposed method is compared with the existing extension of the H-E approach for larger sibships. Control of the type I error probabilities for sibships of any size can be improved by using a generalized estimating equation approach and the robust sandwich estimate of the variance, or a Monte-Carlo permutation test.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel